Day 1 – Flight and Arrival
We arrived at the very early hours of 04:30 in the morning at London Luton airport and proceeded to check in and get some breakfast. We boarded onto the plane and was all sat as a team together. The flight was quick and relaxing, mainly because everyone was asleep for most of it, with us arriving at about 10:00 local time. Baggage and rental car claim were easy and soon we were on the road to our new home in Frigiliana for the next week.
The accommodation was beautiful, some of us having our own double rooms. We had a great view from the Balcony which overlooked the coast and the main town. The rest of that day was a climatization day, a day to get used to the new environment and weather along with some much-needed rest after most of us had only got about 2 hours sleep in the last 24 hours.
Day 2 – the First Summit
On the second day, we got down to business. In the morning we received a briefing on the groups we would be in. the less experienced group was with Maj John Baker a very experienced walker. The more experienced group (the group that already had the SMF qualification) were with SAC Craig Carruthers which by trade was a mountain rescuer. A long two-hour drive to the Botanical Gardens between the peaks of Trevenque and Pico del Tesoro where we would start our walk up the peak of Trevenque. The view was stunning, and the walk was wonderful. The less experienced group only took paths around or close to the peak, where as the experienced group managed to summit the beast that stood over 2000 metres above sea level. Heading back at about 17:00 it was a good familiarisation walk but the next days were ones that would test our endurance.
Day 3 – Green Scenery
Third day both groups took the same route up a peak in the forest Fabrica de la Luz. This was a route that gave us some fantastic views of the landscape, Malaga and the sea. The ascent was quick and resulted in these spectacular views, with the descent being longer, with a bit of scrambling done by the advanced team, but still as breath taking with pathway surrounded by greenery, dried up river beds and a natural pool at the end where we washed our feet in the relaxing cold water.
Day 4 – A Thorny Walk
On day four, the groups were changed. As we were camping out that night the officer cadets could choose who they would tent with and whose group they were in. Before we left for the campsite we completed a route planning card and prepped all our kit for the next two days meaning it was about 14:00 before we arrived and set off. Unfortunately, early on our group managed to get deviated from the path leading us into many low-lying thorn bushes and brambles, making our trek to the summit a nightmare. Due to us starting later in the day, as we approached the base of the peak, we made an all-round decision to turn back and go back to camp in the worry that we would be forced to walk at night with low visibility if we attempted to summit the mountain. Thankfully we managed to find the main path on our return journey, making our descent much quicker. We also encountered a donkey half way down, who began to follow us for the rest of the way, we named her Fiona. On return to camp, a camp fire was set up and dinner was served soon after, followed by everyone having a good social by the fire.
Day 5 – The King Summit
After some well needed sleep, with some of us sleeping better than others, we arose to a beautiful sunrise and proceeded to pack up our tents and chow down to some breakfast. We were going to need it, today was the highest and in some ways steepest peak of the trip. Both groups started at different times so the less experienced group could do some additional training. The ascent was steep in places and exhausting, but we made it up in very good time of about three and a half hours. The walk had some spectacular sites, with views for miles and a clear view of the snow covered peak of Mulhacen, Sierra Nevada’s highest mountain. Once we approached the peak at over 2000 metres, it became more exhausting due to the lower levels of oxygen, but it was so rewarding when we reached the large stone block, symbolising the summit. We got out the union flag, took many pictures and then proceeded to start replenishing on calories. We descended the same route at a cautious but efficient pace and made it back to the campsite in good time for a lunch of sandwiches, followed by returning to the accommodation and getting down to admin.
Day 6 – The Kings Walk
On the second to last day we set off at the early hours of 05:00 to go to a cliff walk, which was a very big tourist attraction. On arrival we waited two hours till its opening to beat the queue. The walk was five-kilometre trek full of views and history as the valley we went through used to be an old hydro electric plant in the early 20th century with there also being a large rope bridge across the valley.
Day 7 – Relax and Power Down
On the last day we were given a day to relax after a long week. We decided to go to the local beach. The weather was nice but the water was cold but there was a chance to go cliff jumping before we returned to the accommodation to get ready for a dinner at one of the local restaurants before our return home the following day.
Therefore, the Southampton University Officer Training Corp, its staff and officer cadets thank Ulysses greatly for your donation and interest into our expedition to Spain. It would not have been the amazing trip that it was without your support.
On behave of the SUOTC.